“Good days are to be gathered like grapes, to be trodden and bottled into wine and kept for age to sip at ease beside the fire. If the traveler has vintaged well, he need trouble to wander no longer; the ruby moments glow in his glass at will.” – Freya Stark
Passing out students from schools and colleges are always talking about how much they love their schools or colleges, a few days prior to their farewell. I have pondered and pondered, but have been unable to find an answer up until a couple of days back. Being blessed with a lot less homework, complemented by a natural ruminating tendency, can do wonders in greasing the so called “gears” in your brain – of course, in a situation devoid of entertaining-electronic-gadgets or what we call EEGs. Being final years students, and having experienced a few situations when EEGs eluded our schedule, we found ourselves going over those days when we were still cool in school (hey, that rhymes!!), those first few months in college when all we did was complain and crib about “how much we missed school” – to be brief, “days that go way back”. I hit jackpot during one of our discussions on our first day at college. The discussion was, as always, most entertaining. But it got me looking at my first day in college in a new light – in a more analytical (but enjoyable) sense of how I have come a long way from then.
For the sole benefits of entertainment and a couple of rib-tickling laughs, if not, sniggers – here’s how my first day in college went:
The date escapes my memory but it was mid – july when I started the next part of my “adventurous” life journey called College. I considered myself lucky getting into Amrita, what with those endless TNPCEE and new syllabus confusions, anybody in the 2006 – 2010 batch is lucky to be in amrita. One of the questions my “non-amritian” friends always haunt me with is “Why Amrita?” and I always say (still do) grown up stuff like, “excellent placement record, ambience, infrastructure, etc etc” and the very same question came when my friends called me up the day before college re-opened. And I knew then and there, Amrita was a place to fear. That drove me into having one of the many sleepless nights I have had that night.
The next day dawned nice and bright, I remember because I couldn’t help wondering why God was being so cruel (haven’t we all?) – the weather was an exact opposite of my mood, cloudy with a chance of tears. My dad, very kindly, offered to drop me at college so many kilometers away and I realized this is how kids (including me), who start school anew, feel. But I was thankful that my dad was going to be there and I wouldn’t have to feel lost among new faces. I did have friends from my school coming to Amrita but they were in different departments and I dint feel any better.
The journey to college was quick or it was because I was distracted by all those gruesome images of myself at the end of the day popping into my head. I reached in time for the induction ceremony to be held at the Amriteshwari hall, waved my dad goodbye and was soon joined by my friends (felt a whole lot relieved). I felt so completely out of place in one of the most beautiful campuses I have ever seen. We settled into Amriteshwari hall a few minutes later, unfortunately we had to sit with our own departments and I grudgingly let out a “See you later” and sat down with my “friends-to-be”. Nobody spoke a word or even turned their heads when I sat. Apparently quite a few of them knew each other already and saw them chattering away, which made me even morose.
The induction began with the lighting of the lamp and speeches from the pro-chancellor – Swami Abhayamrita Chaitanya and some guests. The speeches included anecdotes and messages. A couple of anecdotes later, I felt warm, cheered and welcome. I am sure everybody did. The ceremony lasted 3 hours or so after which first years from every department were scheduled for tours around the college – to get to know our ways around the enormous campus. Assembling in front of the ever-famous Saraswathi statue gracing the campus, the non-initiated “grouping” of boys and girls presented itself. Being a born “chatterbox” and “socialite”, holding my tongue through the induction ceremony was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. A few minutes into the afore mentioned “grouping”, I found myself a friend and someone to talk to. God wasn’t so cruel after all, I concluded.
But my happiness was “ever so” short lived. We were giving tours in the alphabetical order. A-N was grouped into one and the rest were in another group. Being named “Vidya”, I was shipped into the latter. A grudging goodbye to my friend (her name starts with an ‘A’) later found me walking at the very end of the group, hoping that the tour would get over fast so that I could meet up with my friends. No sooner had the tour begun; I forgot that I was new to the place. The campus was amazing, I fused into the group naturally and as one we “ooed” and “aahed” at the buildings, the mountains, the peahens (in the workshop), the huge library (this one was my personal favourite) and everything else. We passed by other departments going through the tours and as luck would have it, I found some long lost friends of mine from school in the other departments. The day was getting better and better. Come lunch time and I found myself asking God for His forgiveness for having called Him cruel. The food in our plates was a feast fit for kings.
We were to be shown to our classrooms after lunch and we were asked to re-assemble at Sudhamani hall. I dragged (having had a heavy lunch) myself up the stairs to the venue. I found my friend and chattered away. A few minutes later, I was chattering away with almost all the girls in my class. Thanks to my good fortune, one of my classmates was also going to be my future bus mate, bus-stop mate and one of my friends with whom I would laugh with for years to come.
Feeling well-settled “we” started out to our class-to-be and at once decided that last bench it is, as has been my routine. Unfortunately, fate played its dirty game, yet again, through my so-called “friend”. I have never forgiven her for the fact that she made me sit in the very front of the class. After the tour and the seating arrangements with much grumbling and mumbling, we decided to push off to the canteen (was visibly brightenend!!) as we had nothing better to do.
We replenished ourselves with a lip-smacking light snack. Deciding that the day couldn’t get any better, we lucky “day scholars” waved good bye to the “not so lucky” hostelites and went to our respective bus stops to catch a ride home in our college buses for the very first time (atleast for me). The ride home was tiring, having tramped all over the campus. The art of sleeping in bus was still unknown to us being newbies, so my friend and I spent the journey home getting to know each other better and sharing experiences. That was when we got our first dose of “advise” right then, right there. One of mine or her experiences, I forget which one, was hilarious and as is the habit for both of us, we laughed out loud. A little too loud, sadly. One of the teachers in the bus called us to his seat and for the whole bus to watch, “advised” us. Heights of embarrassment, we achieved that on the very first day of college. Something, we still recollect, share with our juniors in the bus now and laugh about. The rest of the journey, fortunately only a few minutes, was spent in silence.
We got down at our bus-stop, spent a few minutes chatting, as is usual with “girls”, waved a happy “good-bye” and went our ways. I remember going home, eating my heart out and flopping down on the bed after a brief account, complete with cribs and complaints, to my parents. And that was how my first day in college went.
If I were asked to give my juniors a one-line account of my first year, I would tell them that the first year of college is where you get settled in. And amidst all the chaos and confusion, the bonds we make remains then, now and forever. College is the place to be and the first year is too special to be spent complaining and cribbing. My fourth year at college is at the brink of completion and I never get tired of laughing over all the fun and stupid things we did way back in the beginning.
This piece is all about my first day at college – embarrassing, stupid, morose, ebullient and what not. But in the end, I felt settled in. And it’s all thanks to God, fate, my good fortunes, my ever so co-operative friends and of course, last but not the least, my ability to talk non-stop.
IV Polymer Engineering,
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